Denmark, I Dare You.

Do you appreciate simple and understated design? Do you fancy efficient public transportation? Do you like cultures with mad respect for cyclists? Do you like art, music and a nationally supported appreciation for life-enriching culture? Do you appreciate honest communication with locals, skirting the burdens of American pleasantries? Do you have a deep, abiding intrigue with Vikings and raids and looting and such? More importantly, do you like fish? Like, pickled, broiled, steamed, grilled and preserved fish? Seriously, I hope you do. And if you answered mostly “YES!!!” to each of the above questions (there’s also a lot of pork if you don’t like fish), then please, for the love of all things Scandinavian, visit Denmark. 

Here are a few of many highlights from my trip:

Days 1-3: Aarhus

After a flight to Copenhagen, we hopped a train for a three-hour ride to Aarhus for an initial side-trip before diving into Copenhagen and all it offers. Aarhus, Denmark celebrated 2017 as a European Capital of Culture. This prestigious title gifted a culture-rich city with additional opportunities to promote fine arts, performance, design and festival events throughout the year. I highly recommend staying in an Airbnb or some form of local residence. The place we picked had the perfect blend of Danish design and access to the city hub. You’ll also find Aarhus incredibly affordable when booking an overnight stay, about 1/3 of the cost you’ll see in Copenhagen.

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[ Our super-affordable Airbnb had a great balcony ]

First off, let me tell you about my first and most amazing bite of Danish food – a laks (smoked salmon) sandwich with pesto and freshly shaved parmesan and arugula. I know it sounds very Italian, but trust me, this is Danish. We grabbed a quick bite on our way to Dokk1, a famously designed library and community hub. We ate this magical sandwich under the canopy of a closed bookstore in the rain. MAGIC. 

As the rain passed, we arrived at my partner’s architectural dream project – Dokk1 by Schmidt/Hammer/Lassen Architects

As a key destination in Aarhus, Dokk1 also sells Aarhus cards to tourists, a one-stop pass to museums and public transit. 

As a key destination in Aarhus, Dokk1 also sells Aarhus cards to tourists, a one-stop pass to museums and public transit. 

 The next two days consisted of live music on the main boulevard along the Aarhus river:

 The next two days consisted of live music on the main boulevard along the Aarhus river:

…and long walks filled with public art installations and quintessential Danish streets.

…and long walks filled with public art installations and quintessential Danish streets.

We rounded out our Aarhus visit with a 45-minute bus ride to  Moesgaard Museum , a museum dedicated to archaeology and ethnography.

We rounded out our Aarhus visit with a 45-minute bus ride to Moesgaard Museum, a museum dedicated to archaeology and ethnography.

Our last stop in Aarhus was  Aros , a contemporary art museum in the heart of the city

Our last stop in Aarhus was Aros, a contemporary art museum in the heart of the city

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I dare you not to spend way too long taking panoramic photos of  “Your Rainbow Panorama”  atop the museum.

I dare you not to spend way too long taking panoramic photos of “Your Rainbow Panorama” atop the museum.

Day 4: Welcome to Copenhagen

We journeyed three hours east back to Copenhagen and arrived at Copenhagen Central Station. After three days in quiet and artsy Aarhus, Copenhagen smacked me in the face with action, people, movement and live music. The famous Tivoli Gardens are just steps away from the train station and that was a warm and added welcome to our arrival in the city. 

After getting settled in our beautiful Airbnb looking out to the canal in Christianshavn, we hit the neighborhood for a bite to eat. 

Christianshavn is a short walk through pedestrian and bicycle friendly thoroughfares and bridges. Nyhavn is an iconic Copenhagen neighborhood, great for a leisurely glass of wine, a cup of coffee in a hygge (cozy) spot or a relaxing stroll in beautiful fall weather.

If you still need a reason to visit, you should know that Denmark is ranked as the happiest country on the globe.

If you still need a reason to visit, you should know that Denmark is ranked as the happiest country on the globe.

Day 5: Roskilde, Denmark

The only adventure we booked prior to our arrival was a ride on a Viking boat in Roskilde, just an hour train ride west of Copenhagen (you could say we’re kind of into Vikings). The Viking Ship Museum includes at least five recovered Viking ships and an active outdoor workshop where the ship we sailed on was built.

This one had a 500-year-old leak, so we took a newer model out on the Fjord.  After a jaunt along the Roskilde Fjord, we checked out the  Roskilde Cathedral , where more than 40 kings and queens are interred.

This one had a 500-year-old leak, so we took a newer model out on the Fjord.

After a jaunt along the Roskilde Fjord, we checked out the Roskilde Cathedral, where more than 40 kings and queens are interred.

Days 6-9: Museums, Museums, Churches, Museums and Some Good Hygge

Our Airbnb in Christianshavn had great views of the canal. The canal boat tour is a great way to get an overview on history and spot out your top picks for places to visit. 

A view of the  Royal Danish Opera House  from the boat tour.

A view of the Royal Danish Opera House from the boat tour.

If you happen to plan a trip, I also recommend a Copenhagen Card. Just like in Aarhus, it includes a flat rate for public transportation and entrance to museums and historical points of interest.

Just a few blocks from the Church of Our Savior, where you can climb your way to the top, Freetown Christiania is a must-see. An anarchist, car-free neighborhood established by hippies in the 1970’s, there may or may not be some questionable activity here. It’s an eventful stroll and you’ll find a good falafel stand if you happen to get the munchies.

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Other tourist traps (just do it):
This permanent exhibit, The Danish Chair. An International Affair at Designmuseum Danmark.

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My favorite historical museum (of the five or six we visited) was the  Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket . I love ancient Egyptian artifacts and this place had the good stuff.

My favorite historical museum (of the five or six we visited) was the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket. I love ancient Egyptian artifacts and this place had the good stuff.

And finally, if you must visit the Little Mermaid statue, be sure to flash a peace sign. The bus loads of tourists were nearly plowing me down, so I made my photo opportunity count.

And finally, if you must visit the Little Mermaid statue, be sure to flash a peace sign. The bus loads of tourists were nearly plowing me down, so I made my photo opportunity count.

The happiest country in the world has countless places to visit and never a dull moment. Just visit Denmark. I dare you.
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Have you been to Denmark? What questions do you have for Kendra? Comment below!
Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Kendra B and the Hashtag 59 Team

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